Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new

Here in Maine, we're ending 2008 in much of the same fashion as it began~snowy. I'm hoping 2009 doesn't dump as much of the fluffy white stuff on us as we got in 2008. Two record setting years in a row just aren't necessary thank you very much.

I'm not particularly good at articulating myself sometimes, which is hard to tell since I always have something to blog about. Still, I don't express all my thoughts in this blog, because some things just aren't blog fodder. There are some things I do want to say before 2008 comes to an end though, so here goes.

This blog is my lifeline to the adult world. It's not as sad as it sounds, but it's true. I am home with a preschooler and twin toddlers every day, and rarely speak to an adult other than Doug. So to have readers that leave comments and email me is something so wonderful. I have made friends through this blog, friends who send me messages when I haven't Twittered or written a post in awhile, or send me socks in the mail (thanks Robyn!!!!) to keep my tootsies warm. Knowing I have people I can count on when I'm looking for the duct tape, or when there are broken bones or cranky kids, is something that I am so thankful for. Here's to more road trips and emails in 2009!

This year brought me walking, talking whirling dervishes known as Annie and Izzie. When 2008 began, Izzie wasn't even walking. Now she runs, jumps, sings "we will, we will ROCK YOU" and climbs into her own high chair with ease. She loves her stuffed animals, playing with blocks and "huggies". Annie hasn't slowed down this year, not even with a broken arm. Her verbal abilities are really starting to show and she loves her Daddy so much. She's got a killer smile that can melt the crabbiest of hearts.

Meg and Drew grew this past year as well. Meg can read anything we put in front of her. It's scary. I'm not knocking it though because she reads to Drew and that is so incredible to watch. She's figured out that she really loves hockey and can't wait to play softball again. I see lots of travel in my future for her sporting events. Drew has come out of his shell this year and is more willing to play with new friends. He can write his own name, knows all his letters and is learning to play board games.

Doug and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in September, and our 17th year of being a couple. It's hard to remember a time in my life that we weren't together. It's not always easy, being parents of 4 kids who need us, but we do our best I think, and look forward to what is to come.

Despite how well 2008 turned out, I'm ready for it to end and 2009 to bring good things. Financial stability would be lovely (anyone want to buy a house in Maine?). I'm looking forward to the twins being able to express themselves more with words than with hands and screams, and for Drew to start playing hockey in 3 days. I'm looking forward to putting up my new calendar (Debbie Mumm, always and forever) tomorrow and seeing what the future holds.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I bake my cake and eat it too

I like to bake and decorate cakes. I'm no Martha Stewart by any means, but I'm loving baking cakes for the kids' birthdays. I did NOT bake the cake for Meg's first birthday and got a tongue lashing from my sister-in-law because of it. But look at the gorgeous cake she got for that party:

Yep, I'm not that good. I buy my cake pans thru Wilton and I love them. It's a labor of love let me tell you. So, Elmo was the first cake we made that we decorated ourselves. I have this photo from Drew's 2nd birthday (Meg's 2nd birthday was before my love of the digital camera):
The red is a tough color to get right. Trust me.

This is the first cake I made sans pan for Drew's first birthday. Not my best work, but like I said, I'm no Martha:

For Meg's 3rd birthday, we went with Cinderella, but again, that was before my love of the digital camera so if you REALLY want to see it, I can scan it and post it another time. However, for her 4th birthday, I caved and ordered a cake from the local grocery store with Ariel on it. Drew was one month old people. It was a gorgeous cake. For her 5th birthday, which was a little girlie fairy party, I made a cake with a design I stole from the mittens she was wearing that year:
For Drew's 3rd birthday, I went on a limb and made Bob the Builder. It took me 45 minutes just to tint the 7 frosting colors, and about 2 hours to decorate it. But it was AWESOME:

Meg's 6th and 7th birthday cakes were fun to make. For her 6th I made Hello Kitty from a template I Googled, and her 7th is this great flower pan that will last a long time and I can make so many different ways:

Annie and Izzie got their first cakes last year. Their party was a massive event, combined with a surprise 70th birthday party for my mother-in-law. The color schemes I used reflected how we dressed them at the time:
This weekend I tackled another cake for Drew's birthday. I made Spiderman. Spiderman had me cursing and threatening not to finish decorating him. The red didn't work right; it was too pinky. Did I mention I do all my decorating with frosting shoved into plastic bags? Yep. I'm insane. But, Spiderman rocked the house yesterday:
Since I have 3 more cakes to make in the next month, I made a little trip to Williams Sonoma today and purchased their cake decorating set, complete with a funky plunger tube thingy for the frosting and ten metal tips. Because guess what I'm making in 2 1/2 weeks? Elmo. Oh, he's easy after making him twice before. I'm also making Abby Cadabby. You know, the cute little pink and purple fairy from Sesame Street? I promise pictures when she's done. I'm also making Meg a butterfly or a fairy with the butterfly pan I just bought.

So there you have it. All the cakes I've baked in the last 8 years. It's fun, even if it causes me to swear like a sailor and throw bags of frosting in the sink.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Drew

To Drew on his 4th birthday~

I'm not quite sure how it happened that you're 4 years old today. It seems like just yesterday you were this little baby and now you're a big 4 year old boy who is going to start hockey in a week. You're my snuggle puppy. You love cars, your teddy bear, books, dogs and your Daddy. You're definitely testing your limits (and our patience) as you try to find your way in a house full of girls, but we love you so very much.

So happy birthday buddy. Enjoy your Spiderman cake. Mama loves you.

Born at 5:23 am, 7lbs 3 oz

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Wrapup in Photos

I think we've finally recovered from Christmas. It was a great day. We didn't even get up until 7! I am pretty sure the kids got exactly what their hearts desired. Izzie boycotted present opening a few times and happily watched while the others opened their gifts. Annie and Izzie were both battling some sort of bug that made them tired and clingy, but I'll take that over something else.

I think these photos tell the story about our day pretty well:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember going to a now defunct department store to see Santa. I have no idea what I asked for that Christmas, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't the racket that it is at our mall now~you can get just about anything with a picture of your child and Santa on it, or even have your pet get a picture with Santa! I don't remember if we had to wait in line for a long time, as the memory of the actual event is pretty fuzzy (my mom says I remember nothing of my childhood without prompting).

A few years ago, we started taking the kids to a private, free meeting with Santa. It was hosted by the school department where my parents work, and was just for the kids and grandkids of school department employees. Santa always came with Elf Dennis and there were cookies, pictures to color, and a much quieter atmosphere than the mall visit. This year we had to skip the visit with Santa at the school due to Izzie's collarbone; the visit was just 3 days after the fall and break, and the thought of keeping her strapped up in her stroller and car seat to go see Santa while she was in pain was just too much for us. My dad ran into Mrs. Claus at work one day and she was asking why our family wasn't at the meet-and-greet as we always have been. When my dad explained about Izzie's fall and our predicament, she said that Santa would need to be making a special visit to see our kids. Can you believe it?

Yesterday was that visit, at my parents' house. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there waiting for us. It was truly magical moment for the kids, and I was so proud of how well they did, as I was expecting epic fail, especially with the twins:

Check out "Santa's Magic Key", because it's a really cool explanation of how Santa can get in your house if you don't have a chimney/fireplace (like us!). Mrs. Claus took the last picture for us, which was so lovely of her. It was a great time for the kids, and very magical for Doug and me to see them all enjoy themselves. I hope they remember this when they get older, but if not, I'll be sure to scrapbook it for them! I managed to find a little Christmas spirit along the way as well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

To quote Julie Andrews

"When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad." Sister Maria, The Sound of Music

This is a list of my favorite things, in no particular order. Things that make me happy. Because happy isn't coming right now and I need it to come, so here goes:

The Internet
Clean sheets
An empty sink
A nice, neat living room
A good hair day (shallow I know, but really, it does make me happy)
Emails from friends, especially when they include hugs
Smiles from my kids
Clean kids
My babysitter being home from college for a month
Hugs from my kids
Chocolate (thank you honey for the two bags of Kisses!)
Watching Meg and Drew play in the snow
The kittens sleeping

My Friday question for you: what makes you happy?

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Christmas Tree, how lovely are thy branches

Until yesterday, the extent of our Christmas decorating was limited to our outside icicle lights and spiral trees, and the window clings over every window and the sliding door in our downstairs area. We usually have the outside lights and trees up for Thanksgiving, but we ran out of time, and then with us being deathly ill with the plague after Thanksgiving, that got moved to last weekend.

I have been dreading getting a Christmas tree. Last year we put our tree inside the twins' play yard, and for the most part it was pretty safe there. We had the ornaments up high enough that they couldn't reach. And we had our living room configured in such a way that the girls couldn't get into anything or cause trouble.

Fast forward to this year. Two toddlers, one preschooler, a grade schooler, and 3 cats. Yeah, good times. The play yard is broken down into sections to 1) keep the girls off the stairs and 2) keep them out of this computer room because they can't keep their hands to themselves. Since play yards run for about $99, I'm not about to get another one JUST for the Christmas tree. So after hockey yesterday (where, by the way, my girl scored an amazing goal after getting her own rebound) we went hunting for a tree. This year the high school wasn't selling trees, and actually NO ONE around here was. So, we took a trip to the next town over and found a tree at the apple orchard. It's a lovely tree, not at all Charlie Brown like. Granted it was still covered with ice from our ice storm on Friday (which rendered us without power, water, heat, etc. for 8 hours, when I was home alone, with four children. Sigh) so Doug had to stand in the garage with my hair dryer to thaw it out. After letting it drip dry on the dining room floor, Doug strung the lights and I commenced letting Meg and Drew decorate.

Let me just say, as an aside, that I was near tears watching the kids decorate the tree. No, not from love and gushy feelings. From the fact that they aren't gentle with my ornaments and throw them on the tree willy nilly without thought to style, or location, or anything close to making it look PRETTY. There were certain ornaments I wouldn't let them touch at all, and I've spent a good deal of time rearranging the tree since they decorated. Ahem. Yes, I am a heartless bitch it appears.

I took plenty of before and after pictures and will include them. I also took some photos of my favorite ornaments. I can't possibly put every ornament I have on the tree because, well, I don't want to. We don't do tinsel ever since the cat ate some years ago, and I don't like garland. My tree includes a collection of flute playing Santas and hockey playing Santas. My favorite flute playing Santa is this guy sent to me by Auntie Nettie many years ago:

Then this is an ornament I made in 2nd grade. I just love it, although I don't know why. I think the best part is that my mom always had her on the tree and gave her to me when I moved out:

And here it is, in all its glory:

Now we'll see how long before the kids and/or cats destroy it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Four Years

It's been four years since I left the working world to become a stay at home mom. A lot has changed for me since that day~we've moved, and I've had 3 more children. I remember being so incredibly adamant with Doug when we got pregnant with Drew that I WOULD be staying home and that we'd need to figure out how to make everything work so that I could do that. My mom stayed home until I was old enough to watch my brother for a bit after school (when I was 12 and he was 10) and in my mind that's how I wanted my life to be. I can honestly say, four years later, that I didn't do quite enough soul searching at that time. I looked at the finances, realized that the cost of two in daycare would take almost my entire paycheck at a job I didn't love, and said I wanted to stay home. I have a tendency to put my mind to something without thoroughly thinking it through. This was one of those times.

I know there are those out there who would love to stay home and cannot for financial reasons, and those of you who love working and know that staying at home isn't for you. I don't begrudge anyone their choices; everyone has to do what is best for them and their family and no one has the right to tell them otherwise. Right now I am talking about MY choices and how they affect ME.

Being a stay at home mom for ME is incredibly difficult. I love my children dearly, but there are days when I would rather be anywhere but here. The days tend to blend together. There is no structure, aside from the girls' afternoon nap, and I am a person who likes some structure. The monotony of being at home all the time gets to me and by the time Doug gets home at night I feel like the house has closed in on me. I think his exact words were "raving lunatic" or some such thing. I'm sure a lot of that lately has to do with all those broken bones we've been dealing with. Izzie can't spend much time strapped in a car seat or stroller because it hurts, so we're forced to spend more time here. The girls are almost 2. Every reader with a child over 2 knows what that age is like, and having that doubled is enough to do a person in. Drew will be 4 in three weeks. He's bored to tears on the days he isn't at school. Put it all together and it's enough to make us all crazy.

Am I doing my children a disservice by being home with them? There are days when I heartily say YES to that. I feel like they don't get the best of me, and that is what they need to grow up healthy and happy. I'm sure they can feel my sadness and I know they've seen me cry and not know why. I certainly don't want to go back to work just because being at home is hard and it stresses me out; that would make my kids feel like I don't love them and I'm just running away from them. It's a terrible position to be in. Of course all I want is for them to be happy and if happy for them means that I'm not here all the time then maybe it's something I really need to consider. I know what I'd like to do if I got a job, and I wouldn't be doing it for the money because it pays squat. However, if working means that my children are happier and healthier, and in turn so am I, then maybe it's time.

Friday, December 5, 2008

To toddler bed or not to toddler bed

First an update: Izzie went to the orthopedist this morning. He's our new best friend. Her break wasn't as bad as some and will heal rather quickly. He fashioned a bit of a sling for her that keeps her arm closer to her body. Once she isn't in so much pain I'll be happier. For now, helicopter mama has returned.

While I am awaiting a call from child services (you know, once the urgent care center puts two and two together) I've been contemplating toddler beds. I think I've blogged before that I was waiting until the girls were, say, fifteen for toddler beds, for my own sanity. The daily nap, or lack thereof, is my only respite during the day. If they're safely ensconced in their cribs and SLEEPING, I can do things like laundry, or blogging, without them climbing stairs or running about. I've had good and bad experiences with toddler beds, which is why I'm on the fence.

Meg transitioned to a toddler bed at about 20 months. Our neighbors were selling one in mint condition for $10 and we snapped it up. We honestly had no idea what we were doing, but thought we'd try. She did incredibly well. She slept in the bed, never got up at night, and never left her room in the morning until someone came to get her up. We never had a gate at the top of the stairs because she never wandered. It was all kinds of heaven.

We started transitioning Drew to a toddler bed at our old house at about 18 months, before our big move. He did ok, but not swell. Then when we moved here, all hell broke loose. Too many transitions at once turned our good sleeper into a nightmare. He'd tear his room apart-all the clothes out of the closet, diapers out of the changing table, no naps. He'd fall asleep behind his door so that we'd hit him in the head when we went to check on him. After 2 months of very little or no naps the crib went back up and he was a much happier person. At about 2 1/2 he got my nephew's bunk beds and the bottom bunk is his bed (the other parts are in the basement) and he loves it. He is still a wanderer but a good sleeper.

The twins are a lot like Drew. They're rather impulsive and don't listen well, ever. I know they're not quite 2 yet (OMG next month!) and I haven't at all forgotten how awful it was with Drew and he was only one child. Maybe they'd surprise me by sleeping well in a toddler bed, but given our track record, I am thinking they'll rebel at it heartily. They play off each other; if Annie isn't sleeping, Izzie rarely sleeps. I don't have any more bedrooms available in the house in order to separate them, so they'll be sharing a room for life.

So, for now I hope that Izzie won't try to climb out of her crib again since obviously she doesn't know how. And I hope Annie will remember that Izzie got hurt trying to follow her lead, and that the girls will just nap at naptime instead of practicing for Barnum and Bailey's Circus.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I'm officially waving the white flag. I'm spent. I'm done. I give up. The twins are going to drive me to drink, or an early grave. Maybe both.

After a relatively quiet morning and a late lunch, I put the girls down for a nap. I puttered around on the computer while Drew played on the floor with some flash cards. Over the monitor I heard Annie's voice and it was just a tad bit too close to the monitor in the girls' bedroom. Upon review, I found Annie walking around the room instead of in her crib. She has stealth, that's for certain. I put her back, told them to take a nap, and came back downstairs. Shortly afterward I heard a horrible CLUNK and screams from Izzie. I found both girls out of their cribs, but Izzie was a crumpled heap on the floor and Annie was all innocently looking at me like "what? I do this all the time."

Long story short, after a 2 1/2 hour trip to the urgent care center at our local hospital, Izzie has a fractured collarbone. Do you know what can be done for a fractured collarbone? NOTHING. I can put her little arm in a sling, but she's a 2 year old. She isn't going to keep her arm in a sling, no matter how cute it is. The paperwork says collarbone fractures take up to 6 weeks to heal. I bought a LARGE bottle of baby ibuprofen and will be calling our doctor for yet another referral to the orthopedist. Thank god for insurance, because Annie's trip to the urgent care center was $500. We have to pay $50.

Let's review~last month Annie got tackled by Drew and broke her arm. Her cast came off yesterday. YESTERDAY! Four days into December and Izzie decided she wanted to be part of the crowd and followed Annie out of the crib. Bubble wrap, duct tape and/or cookies and alcohol are on the agenda (cookies and alcohol for me not them of course) for the next few days.

I'm going to find my jammies and a blanket. I'm beat.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bloggy bling

I know, I know, two posts in one day. But my friend CK gave me a nice award (again!!!!) and before she gives me a whooping, I wanted to get it on my blog. So, here goes:

I have to do a few things now that I've put this award up, so let's get crackin':

1. Say one nice thing to a man in your life. My husband is one of the "good" ones. Tonight he brought me orange soda just because. Really, you can't beat that. I'm not going to get all mushy. Blech.

2. List at least six ways that you measure success in your life (or for your blog). Yeah, this one is hard. If we're all healthy and happy, then that's 6 happy, healthy people. In one house. Voila, success! I'm going with it.

3. I get to assign this to 6 other bloggers, but you all know I hate doing that because I am a new blogger and you've all been out there so much longer. However, there are those that I read and comment on pretty faithfully so they know I love them.

It's Christmas COOKIES and Holiday Hearts

I just looked at the title of my last post and realize I got the lyrics to the song WRONG. FAIL! But that's ok, because this post is all about COOKIES. Christmas cookies. Cass was talking about the Christmas cookies she's going to be making and it got me thinking that holy cow it's December 3rd and I haven't had a moment to think about Christmas cookies. Ok, not totally true because I ordered my bucket of sugar cookie dough from my niece or nephew on Thanksgiving thru their band fundraiser, so I have that going for me. Of course I don't actually HAVE the dough, so I can't do anything with it yet.

When I was a kid, my mom made all kinds of Christmas cookies. She made wreaths with dough she colored green and used a cookie press to make; I loved them, but they always took so much work. She made candy canes and those were fun to help make. We made peanut butter kiss cookies, which are probably my favorite cookie (why I only make them at Christmas is beyond me, except that Doug doesn't like peanut butter cookies unless they're Nutter Butters) and I was allowed to help with them. My job was to roll the dough in the sugar, then press the Hershey kiss in after the 5 minute cooking time. Oh, and I had to unwrap all 48 Hershey kisses as well. We made cutout cookies~angels, trees, snowmen and maybe Santa too. While making cookies was a lot of work, seeing the platter arranged with the different kinds and of course tasting them all was a special treat that I love remembering.

We also had a neighbor who was like a surrogate grandmother to me that would make a huge platter of cookies and bring them to us. They were all so different from what my mom would make that we looked forward to the arrival of a platter of rum balls (no, not for the kids!), snowballs, thumbprint cookies and maybe coconut macaroons too. I can't remember them all as it's been a long time since she was alive but I loved those cookies.

What's your favorite Christmas cookie?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Music and Holiday Hearts

I won't bore you with details from my horrific holiday weekend (can you say Barforama III?). We did have a great Thanksgiving with our families and Doug was thrilled that dinner was served only 15 minutes late. How's that for proper planning, eh?

So, in lieu of those details, I'll share my love of music, especially Christmas music. I am a musician (a flutist) and love most music with the exception of rap, country, opera (oh I loathe opera, well, except Mozart's) and some piano concertos. I love Christmas music the most I think. We have a digital channel here in Maine that plays "Songs of the Season" all day long and right now it's of course Christmas music. It's the only time of the year I leave the tv on for long stretches of time, as it's so much easier than changing CDs every 40 minutes or so.

I prefer "traditional" Christmas music. By that I mean what I grew up listening to, so NOT Mariah Carey or any of the newer artists belting out Christmas songs. Julie Andrews, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, or anything classical. I have a great choral CD that I love to listen to, as well as a James Galway CD that is just beautiful. I grew up listening to my mom's $.95 records put out by Bridgestone or Firestone on our record player, and hearing those again in my own home brings back such happy memories of decorating the tree (after my father wrangled on lights swearing like a sailor) or making cookies with my mom as I got older. There is something soothing about them. Just don't ask me to listen to Silent Night. It's my least favorite of all Christmas songs.

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night" and I like it sung by The Lettermen (anyone else have the Reader's Digest two cassette set as a kid?) best. Now I'll ask you~what is your favorite Christmas song?